Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Episodes 7-12 streaming
Sanada continues to assemble his ten brave warriors before finally announcing just why it was that he needed that specific number – each brave represents a specific element necessary to offset the others and the group is a mix of complimentary types intended to work together. This is all well and good until one of the group does something unexpected, resulting in a desperate battle to save not only the country, but each other as well. Will Sanada's goal for his Brave 10 pan out?
In some ways, it is hard to believe that Brave 10 was not based on an otome game. The central cast is primarily comprised of attractive men, none of whom are blood related to our plucky heroine, and everyone has a unique visual style and set personality type, from “dark and brooding” all the way down to “shota bait.” But then there's Ana and some of the villainous women – with their oversized bosoms and underclothed other body parts, surely they were meant to appeal to the same sort of audience that enjoys watching buxom babes commit violent acts? Of course, then we go back to heroine Isanami. With her name a barely concealed reference to Shinto creation goddess Izanami, ruler of the land of the dead, she has all the hallmarks of an otome game heroine but all the annoying perkiness of the token girl in a cookie cutter shounen action show. And let us not forget Sasuke the ninja, who is never without his cute forest friends, or Kamanosuke the androgynous who is just a doujinshi waiting to happen, or the token pirate...What all of this is getting at is that, for its attractively animated fights and creative costumes, Brave 10 is a show that remains unsure of its audience to the end. Nice to look at but light on plot, it never quite manages to live up to its potential.
The second half of Brave 10 picks up right where the first left off – by continuing to assemble its ten warriors. In a twenty-four episode show, this might be permissible, but when you only have half that many to tell your story, such pacing is, if not unforgivable, at least highly inadvisable. Brave 10 is so concerned with its title, in fact, that it leaves out little details like character development and major plot points, giving most of these episodes the feel of some sort of bishounen Pokémon game as Sanada scrambles to catch 'em all. While small efforts at characterization and development are made – Sasuke clearly has feelings for Isanami, for example, and Saizo and Ana share a past – by the time the big reveal comes in episode nine, we don't care enough for the characters to care that one of them has done something unexpected. The story tries to give us reasons to feel some empathy for at least one of the players, but it has spent so long just gathering the cast that even those whom we have known from the first episode seem a bit cardboard, robbing the fighting that takes place from episode ten to the end of any great impact. It is hard to be invested in a life-or-death battle if you do not have any emotional stock in the combatants living.
Fortunately the fighting looks good. The animation is fluid and swift, with dazzlingly impossible moves performed by ninja and samurai of all stripes as they do their level best to kill each other. Obvious CG intrudes in some battles, particularly those involving insects, and this doesn't work as well as the high flying action, but overall it is easy to admire the fights even if you aren't invested in their outcomes. Nonfighting animation is less impressive, with static props and Sanada looking decidedly bosomy in the last episode through the gap in his kimono. Blood is present when characters are wounded, but it is not gushing madly, serving instead as a reminder that somewhat has been injured. At times it feels a bit lacking, but the fact that it remains on clothing long after the injury is important to the scene is a good touch.
Had Brave 10 had more episodes, it could have been a much more enjoyable show. As it stands, however, it is unevenly paced and unreliably plotted and peopled, making it less than excellent. After taking too long to assemble a too large cast and throw some bad guys at the viewer, the ending fight, which is presumably supposed to be pivotal, proves less than enthralling, mostly because we simply don't care enough about Isanami and Saizo, or, for that matter, Sanada. Viewers with a firm historical background will probably get more out of the final episodes than those without, although those same historically informed viewers may find themselves groaning at the creative interpretation of the times. So once again, we are left with what we began with – Brave 10 is a show that looks good and sounds good, but when it comes time to watch it, it falls far short of any of the many marks it could have set for itself.
Overall (sub) : C-
Story : D
Animation : B-
Art : B-
Music : C+
+ Attractive animation and artwork, some nice voicework provided as well. Good fight scenes.
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